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Tuesday, October 26, 1999 Published at 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK

UK Politics

One lord a-leaping

"Stand up for Queen and Country," says the Earl of Burford

The eldest son of a hereditary peer has been thrown out of the House of Lords for staging a protest in the chamber hours ahead of a key vote on Lords reform.

The Lords are getting their final change on Tuesday night to vote on the government's plans to remove sitting and voting rights for peers who gained their place in the second chamber by inheritance.

The BBC's John Pienaar: "Ministers say the Lords may have to go at one stroke"
But as the debate got underway the Earl of Burford stormed the floor - forcing the Lords' deputy speaker, Lord Buston of Faversham, to jump out of his way.

As the son of a hereditary peer, the earl has the right to listen to proceedings in the chamber from the Steps of the Throne, but is not permitted to take part.

Wasteland warning

But the heir of the Duke of St Albans broke the rules to demonstrate about what he called "the abolition of Britain".

He rushed forward and jumped on to the Woolsack in the centre of the chamber and began shouting and waving an order paper.

His protest did not last long - the Serjeant at Arms, General Sir Edward Jones, also known as Black Rod, ejected him from the House after he had been pulled down from the podium by ushers.

As he was forced outside, he shouted at peers in the chamber: "Before us lies the wasteland, no Queen, no culture, no sovereignty, no freedom.

"Stand up for your Queen and country - vote this treason down."

Brussels bill 'treason'

Several hundred peers had turned up for the debate, which is set to abolish more than 600 of their number in the first stage of the Lords reform process.

Outside, the Earl of Burford told reporters: "This bill drafted in Brussels is treason. What we are witnessing is the abolition of Britain."

"It concerns the liberty of every individual in Britain. The truth is that Tony Blair is evicting the hereditary peers from Parliament in order to remove what he perceives to be the last obstacle to his plans to surrender our nationhood to Brussels.

"Blair has been ordered by his world government masters to bring the British constitution into line with the other European Union countries in preparation for full political union.

"And he is doing it in flagrant contempt of both Parliament and the Crown. Indeed the very existence of the Monarchy is threatened.

"For if the Lords are stripped of their constitutional powers, then Blair will have presented himself with a prima facie case for revoking the constitutional powers of the Monarchy.

Thumbs down

But not all those who witnessed the protest were impressed. Tory whip Lord Henley said it has served "no purpose whatever".

He added: "It really brings the whole thing into ridicule and the House behaved very well in the event."

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